Out of Our Depth? Why Deep Seabed Mining is Not the Answer to the Climate Crisis


The climate emergency is finally on the global agenda, with plans and strategies abounding on how we can transition to a low-carbon future. Business as usual is no longer an option.

To reach our targets, we need to change behaviour, embrace new technologies and implement significant mitigation projects. All hands to the wheel. We have to decarbonise our practices. We must decouple from fossil fuels and develop alternative forms and sources of energy. And that’s precisely what Fauna & Flora International (FFI) is demanding from our government and corporate partners.

One pathway to decarbonisation leads us down the road to a lithium-ion future that is massively dependent on metals – and on our ability to mine them in sufficient quantities. As battery-powered alternatives for everything from vehicles to smart energy grids are explored, there remain significant concerns around the sustainability of available battery technologies. Many battery materials, including heavy metals such as nickel and cobalt, pose tremendous environmental and humanitarian risks. Cobalt in particular, which is mined mainly in central Africa, has come under fire for careless and exploitative extraction practices.

A number of notable reports have been published in recent years highlighting the likelihood of increased demand for mineral commodities. In 2017, the World Bank published The Growing Role of Minerals and Metals for a Low Carbon Future, which concluded that the rise of green energy technologies required to make decarbonisation a reality would lead to considerably higher demand for a wide range of minerals and metals.

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